DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – “Nobody wants to admit it, but you don’t just pick up one and say ‘I need a hit because I’m anxious’,” shares 17-year-old Tryston Zohfeld. “Everybody starts because they think it’s cool or because they were introduced to it by a friend. That’s pretty much how I was introduced to it, 8th or 9th grade.”
Zohfeld admits he had been warned about the dangers of vaping, but he was a teenager, after all.
“As a teenager you feel invincible. You don’t really think ‘this could happen to me’, even to somebody that you know.”
His feelings of invincibility, however, came face to face with reality earlier this summer.
“I woke up at 6:30 the next morning, just throwing up everywhere. I could feel my heart pounding out of my chest: you know– going 100 miles per hour. I was doing these half breaths. I really couldn’t get a whole breath in, even with the inhaler.”
He was ultimately put on a ventilator– machines were keeping him alive. Doctors at Cook Children’s in Fort Worth could find no sign of infection– now suspecting the vaping led to the crisis.
And they are not alone in raising concerns about e-cigarettes.
“Most people think that there’s simple water vapor and flavorings that taste good: there so much more,” warns Dr. Devika Rao, a pediatric pulmonologist at Children’s Health in Dallas. “Things like nickel and lead, these are heavy metals that can do direct damage to the lungs.”
Dr. Rao is now joining a chorus of health professionals urging parents to warn their children about the dangers of vaping.
“The nicotine contained in these products is very potent,” says Dr. Rao, “and the potential for nicotine addiction is so much more in young people compared to adults.”
Now, weak and still recovering, Zohfeld has sworn off vaping and is now working to warn others.
“Obviously, I was embarrassed at first, but once I realized I was going to make it through, and I was given that second chance. I just wanted to give that warning out to people.”